Central Criminal Court
The daughter of a taxi driver who was stabbed and left to die on the side of the road has told the Central Criminal Court that he was "brutally, viciously and inhumanely killed for no fault of his own".
The Central Criminal Court heard impact statements from the mother, wife, daughters and siblings of 53-year-old Martin Mulligan who died from stab wounds at Carnmore, Balriggan, Dundalk, Co Louth on September 28, 2015. A jury found Joseph Hillen (24) of Glendasha Road, Forkhill, Co Armagh guilty of his manslaughter by a ten to two majority last October. He will be sentenced on January 28.
At a sentence hearing today in front of Justice Eileen Creedon the deceased's youngest daughter Shauna said she had the "privilege and honour of having my dad in my life for 25 years until he was brutally, viciously and inhumanely killed for no fault of his own."
She remembered her dad as "hardworking, caring, loving, beautiful, patient, intelligent, amusing and affectionate." In five separate impact statements Martin Mulligan was described as the family bond and the kind of person who would light up a room with his good humour, warmth and laughter. Shauna said his happiest times were those spent with his family and he was her role model.
She said: "He supported me in so many ways and motivated me with his kind encouraging words like "you just do your best" or "I am very proud of you Shauna"."
His death had done ever-lasting damage that can never be described, she said. The circumstances of his death have left her "vulnerable and afraid to face life without him". His eldest daughter Sharon remembered his "kindness and selflessness" and recounted how when their next-door neighbour's father died Martin took care of their youngest boy Cian, picking him up from school, taking him to football on Sundays and having him over to stay at weekends.
She added: "Cian, who has just turned 18, told me that he was looking forward to having his first legal pint with my Dad."
Every moment in her life will be tinged with sadness, she said. As the family faces their fourth Christmas without him they feel nothing will ever be the same. "My family and I feel like we have nothing to look forward to any more."
Sharon added: "My son will never meet the granddad he would have loved. My dad was a huge part of my life and I know he would have played a major role in my son's."
Martin met his wife Grainne when they were teenagers and they were about to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary when he died. "We had so many wonderful years together," she said, "but not enough. Martin was and still is the love of my life."
Before he left that Sunday evening he told her: "I'm looking forward to tomorrow." They both had Mondays off, she explained, and would spend them together. "That was the last intimate moment I had with Martin."
She described him as a "talker" who was admired by "so many people". He had a "wonderful sense of humour. Being funny was one of his greatest assets." His proudest achievement was his two girls.
Mrs Mulligan said she would always be haunted by the way her husband died: "On the side of the road, alone without me or his family around him. I always wonder, did he cry out for me?"
She added: "I always thought we would grow old together, looking after each other and enjoying our grandchildren like my parents and Martin's parents. The way it should be."
Detective Garda James Doherty told Patrick Treacy SC for the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) that Hillen had previous convictions for road traffic offences, one for handling stolen property and another for evasion of customs on chargeable goods.
He agreed with defence counsel Brendan Grehan SC that Mr Hillen had no previous convictions relating to violence.
Detailing the evidence in the trial Det Gda Doherty said the deceased worked as a coal delivery man and as a taxi driver. On the night he died he dropped off his last fare at Forkhill, Co Armagh at 1.45am. His body was found at 3.06am a short distance from his taxi at Carnmore. He had suffered two stab wounds, one to the abdomen that severed the aorta and another to his right thigh that also severed an artery.
In garda interviews Hillen denied any knowledge of what happened to Mr Mulligan but in summer this year he gave a voluntary statement in which he said he was driving when he saw Mr Mulligan at a plot of land owned by his friend. There had been trouble with illegal dumping at the site and Hillen thought that Mr Mulligan was dumping rubbish from his car.
There was a short car chase followed by a scuffle or "wrestling" during which Hillen said the deceased pulled a knife on him. Hillen said he managed to "flip the knife" and while being struck from above he "jabbed out" twice and inflicted the fatal wounds. He said he had acted in self defence and the jury in his trial was told to find him not guilty of murder, guilty of manslaughter if Hillen acted in self defence but used excessive force.
In submissions to the judge at today's hearing Mr Grehan told the judge that his client apologises to the Mulligan family. He said that a probation report handed into the court stated that his client has insight into his crime and understands the pain he has inflicted on the deceased's family.
He asked the judge to take into account Hillen's youth, his remorse and his offer to plead guilty to manslaughter, which was rejected by the DPP.
Justice Creedon said she wanted to "consider all matters" and adjourned sentencing until January 28.